Inspiration Board For Writers: 3 Tips For Success

Sarah Rexford
April 15, 2023 | 6 mins

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Inspiration boards are a helpful way to encourage yourself toward your dream. If you are creative, visual learner, or simply love the tactile experience of taking your dream from ideation to a 3D experience, creating an inspiration board is for you. 

It might be easy to think of an inspiration board as a simple craft experience and a waste of time. However, this is not the case. Creating an inspiration board allows you to slow down, think through the different elements of your story, and craft a detailed, artsy layout for future reference.

This article discusses the helpful aspects of an inspiration board, benefits for writers, and how to create one. Before getting started, I must quickly debunk the myth that inspiration boards and mood boards are synonymous. 

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Inspiration Board Versus Mood Board 

If you have a Pinterest account, you've likely created a mood board. Whether this was for different fashion choices you hope to implement into your style, interior design for a room in your home, or your dream writing office, mood boards help create a specific aesthetic.

Inspiration boards, on the other hand, focus on the details of what you want to create. Kdan says that inspiration boards “have a greater focus on elements like details, colors, and texture to serve as a valuable building block for the project, as opposed to a mood board that concentrates on conveying a feeling.”

With this definition in mind, let’s dive into the various aspects of an inspiration board and the benefits these aspects have for writers. 

Include A Multitude Of Colors 

Creating an inspiration board is different than planning your plot out on a Word document or in a notebook. While writers are often encouraged to carry a notebook in their pocket or use a notes app on their mobile device, getting creative often starts with choosing various colors.

Just as you may have used various colored pens in school, getting creative with the use of colors for your inspiration board is a great starting point.

It can be helpful to attribute one color per character. This allows you a quick overview of the different aspects of your characters at a glance, regardless of the genre you write

Don’t Forget About Fonts

While we may think that playing with fonts is off limits to us as writers, graphic designers are not the only people who get to be creative in this aspect. Just as using various colors to represent your characters can be extremely helpful, fonts can be as well.

Especially if you decide to create a physical inspiration board, you may want to attribute different fonts to different characters. 

For instance, if your protagonist is whimsical you could choose a font such as Harrington in a pastel color. If you have a supporting character who is young or funny, try using a font like Comic Sans. Any notes you have on these characters, type up in your chosen font, then paste them to your board. 

Combine Tactile and Visuals 

Some time ago I was watching a class by author N. K. Jemisin. She mentioned traveling to a volcano to feel the textures and experience the other senses she wanted to include in her book. While we may not be able to fly off to our book’s location this afternoon, using both tactile and visual elements can greatly aid us in our writing. 

If your story takes place on a deserted island, you may want to take a day trip to your nearest beach. Bring back some sand, put it in a small bottle, and attach it to your inspiration board. 

For added texture, use two-sided tape and glue a small handful of sand grains to your board. Search for photos that represent your beach at various times of day and attach these as well. When you write these scenes, notice what the sand feels like. Take in the visuals. Write what you experience. 

How To Create Your Inspiration Board 

One of the first options to consider when brainstorming your inspiration board is what type of board you want to create. While you can create a stereotypical board that you can hang on your wall in your office or stand up against a pile of books, you may want to consider a board that takes more of a 3D shape. 

For this type of board, you would assemble your various products as if you were going to give a presentation. Rather than focusing on how you can hang your board on a wall, you would use your board as a sort of platform to attach your elements. 

If you choose to go with this type, simply place your board on a flat surface and attach your photos, textures, and other elements accordingly.

#1 – Creativity Over Perfection

First up, remember that creating your inspiration board is about creativity and not perfection. You may choose fonts, colors, and textures in the beginning that you replace later. This is perfectly fine and actually a great part of your creative process.

Just as you can edit your manuscript, you can edit your inspiration board. Simply replace items that no longer serve you, add in others, and rearrange your board until it best aids you. 

#2 – Keep The Scraps 

Whether you follow the current trend of minimalism or enjoy collecting a variety of trinkets, when creating your inspiration board, you can set aside your natural proclivities and simply create without many boundaries. 

If your story takes place in a four season climate during the fall, press leaves or attach crinkly dead ones. Does the elderly woman in the fourth chapter always offer your hero cookies and tea on a doily? Find a lookalike and attach it to your board. 

Does your villain always wear a red leather jacket? Find some scrap leather, note the feel, the sound of it rubbing against jeans, and add it to your board. 

#3 – Don’t Forget About Taste And Smell

Riders are often encouraged to use the five senses when writing. However, the sense of taste and smell are easy to forget when typing black words on a white page. While our characters see and hear different happenings, it doesn’t always feel natural to write about what they taste or smell.

Am I saying to include a taste test in your inspiration board? Absolutely. If your characters love a specific cookie or candy, have at it. Write down the crunch on your tongue, the after taste, the smell. Add it to your board! 

Make That Target Run

Now that you know how to make your inspiration board it may be time to purchase your own. I don't know about you, but if I have an excuse to go to Target, going to Target will definitely leap onto my to-do list.

Whatever store you choose to stock up on your inspiration board items, take your time. Browse the aisles, smell the candles, look at the packaging on different foods your characters eat, and jot down all the details you can. These notes will be extremely helpful for referencing as you start the writing process.

After you've collected your items it's time to get to work. Have fun engaging in arts and crafts for the good of your story, and just don't forget to actually get to the writing later on!

Get A Book Cover Design Checklist!

People DO judge books by their covers. Grab a quick checklist to make sure your cover gets the attention of your audience.

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